What to do when the family has not talked about the future of the family business? Many closely held family businesses have begun to use mediators when planning how the business will be passed down to future generations. This is a process that can help to resolve issues that arise when passing on a business. The process is often handled in the following manner:
1) The mediator meets with the owner/operator of the business individually to determine what that person would like to see become of the company and to determine who are the potential heirs or successors;
2) The mediator or members of the team then meet individually with the potential heirs or successors to determine what interest these individuals have in the business; and
3) Lastly, there would be a meeting or a group of meetings at which the group would make decisions regarding the future of the business.
Through this process it often becomes evident that certain family members either are very interested in being involved in the business and want to take over or that they have no interest at all and have been working in the business out of a sense of duty. This will greatly assist the head of the family/business to make decisions and plan with his or her estate planning attorney, how to resolve competing interests through business succession planning and estate planning.
If you determine that this is the manner in which you would like to proceed, it is important that you contact a mediator with in depth knowledge of estate planning.